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Colonel Tom's Folly

Twenty years after Elvis's death, a guide to his greatest movie "hits" and misses

Tickle Me (1965)
Most implausible song setting: The cheapest film Elvis ever made has desert mountain scenery that looks like starving-artist paintings and songs lifted from Elvis albums as far back as 1960. Unfortunately, they're playing "reprocessed to simulate stereo" versions drenched with so much echo it sounds as if the King is singing from a well-tiled bathroom.

Reason Elvis has to whup a man's ass: Too many to count. The total number of fistfights is seven! "It happens every once in a while," Pelvis the Pulverizer apologizes early on.

Harum Scarum (1965)
Most implausible song setting: Mary Ann Mobley tosses gold coins in a fountain like a watery jukebox and imagines Elvis's reflection singing (what else?) "Golden Coins" to her. "I'll bring you gifts like you never saw / Persian rugs to enhance your floor." Who wrote this song -- Carpet Outlet?

Reason Elvis has to whup a man's ass: Kidnapped Elvis unwisely protests to Sinan, Lord of the Assassins, that his karate skills are only for use in self-defense. To which an extremely understanding Sinan replies, "That's exactly what you will do, defend yourself against a slow and extremely painful death!" After five cloaked henchmen work El over, he is revived in the next scene with three very neatly drawn whiplashes on his back and nary a hair out of place. That's torture?

Pedophile alert: Elvis lasciviously grinds out "Hey little girl, I wanna take you home" to a seven-year-old, and has the effrontery to do it with four orphan girls, an elderly gent and a midget present.

Frankie and Johnny (1966)
Most implausible song setting: The King of Rock and Roll singing three (count 'em) songs with Harry Morgan, the future M*A*S*H Colonel Sherman Potter -- that's not implausible enough for you?

Reason Elvis has to whup a man's ass: After Elvis wins a cool million at the craps table, a jealous rival ruins the moment by belting him and croaking, "You're still a loser, winner!" Funny, the same thing can be said about this turkey making money at the box office.

Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966)
Most implausible song setting: Elvis passes kids making sandcastles -- hmmm, some native just happens to throw him a guitar with painted-on strings. You don't think he's going to sing a song called "Sand Castles," do you?

Reason Elvis has to whup a man's ass: When some meathead at a luau starts manhandling Elvis's secretary, the King serves the lug his steak medium rare, with a knuckle sandwich on the side.

Pedophile and infantilism alert: Without even waiting for permission, "Uncle Rick" (that's E) shanghais his friend's prepubescent daughter in a helicopter to sing about "Datin'." Here's a sample lyric: "Grownups belong in a baby carriage / They're doing things that will lead to marriage."

Spinout (1966)
Most implausible song setting: Shelley Fabares's rich daddy pays $5,000 for Elvis and his guitar, bass and drum combo to travel all the way to Santa Barbara to perform one song for his spoiled-brat daughter's birthday. That song features but a lonesome tinkling piano.

Reason Elvis has to whup a man's ass: No flying fists of fury in this one, although it's inconceivable that Elvis could sing such misogynist anthems as "Adam and Evil" and "Smorgasbord," have a female drummer in his group who cooks and roadies for him and not have one suffragette step up to the plate and crown him with a vase.

Double Trouble (1967)
Most implausible song setting: Elvis and his band perform an impromptu concert on a huge ocean liner to Brussels in order to find a 17-year-old girl on board. Here's the implausible part: The girl hears a brief guitar lick and shouts, "That's him!" Does she know Scotty Moore, too?

Reason Elvis has to whup a man's ass: Elvis tangles with a professional killer, but has the good sense to neatly take off his powder-blue jacket midfight. After the murderer falls down a well, Elvis decides the jacket is ruined and disposes of it in a crumpled heap. Guess the other murderers won't be looking for a guy with powder-blue pants!

Speedway (1968)
Most implausible song setting: Elvis, about to be audited by the IRS, sings the patriotic "He's Your Uncle, Not Your Dad," an odious ode about paying Uncle Sam what you owe him.

Reason Elvis has to whup a man's ass: Some guy's got the nerve to tell an angry Elvis to let Nancy Sinatra go. "Make me," he sneers back, unleashing three air punches that nonetheless knock the creep clear across the room on a flat dolly. Better hope that's not one of Frank's friends, punk!

Pedophile alert: Elvis sings "Your Time Hasn't Come Yet, Baby" to a bunch of grade-school kids living with their father in a car!

The Trouble with Girls (1969)
Most implausible song setting: Imagine an Elvis movie in which Buffy from Family Affair, Cindy from The Brady Bunch, mothers, college folk trios, marching bands and everyone with access to a pitch pipe gets to sing songs except Elvis. He doesn't break into a tune until midway through, and that's only because the lead singer with the Bible group contracts laryngitis.

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